Latin American Representation in the COP Space

I arrived in Marrakesh straight from  a 6 month stint in Chile and Brazil, and my brain froze up as I searched for the French word for “good afternoon”. I kept finding myself saying “licença” instead of “pardon” while making my way through the throngs of people in the market and in the COP space. Thankfully, I didn’t have to miss South America too much, and spent my first two days in side events presented by delegates from all across Latin America, presented in English and Spanish, as I learned how various countries in the region were reacting to climate change and working to implement the Paris Agreement.

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Latin America has incredible potential and willingness to work on fighting climate change, but they face difficulty from the involvement of parties with clear conflicts of interest. The Latin America and Caribbean region has enough renewable energy potential to cover 22 times its energy demand by 2025. But Oil & Gas interests in countries like Mexico, Venezuela and Bolivia are lobbying policy-makers to expand fossil fuel use, and actively working against divestment.

Chilean Countryside ranges from mountains, deserts, fertile valleys covered in vineyards or pastures, and glacial plains.
Chilean Countryside ranges from mountains, deserts, fertile valleys covered in vineyards or pastures, and glacial plains.


Latin America has much at stake if they do not take action now on climate change. Between the island nations in the Caribbean and the glaciers of Patagonia, rising temperatures and sea levels will have disastrous effects. Some say the issue isn’t climate change itself, it’s the consequences of climate change, such as habitat loss and reduced biodiversity. Latin America has various biodiversity hotspots and species that do not exist in any other part of the world. Amphibians throughout Central America have been annihilated by climate change and the spread of a particular fungi. Trees in the Peruvian Amazon are losing ground as they move up the mountains into the only habitats remaining that are cool enough to support their narrow temperature range. Party delegates and civil society representatives from the countries below presented a bit about the issues specifically affecting their countries and their goals for civil society as well as goals lined up in their NDCs for addressing climate change.1439159929354

Mexico: Mexico currently sources 91% of its energy from fossil fuels, and is having a really tough time diverting to renewables because of the prominence of the fossil fuel industry  in its economy. Yet, Mexico is feeling pressured to act on climate change because as much as $1.4 billion of losses have been caused by climate change from 2000-2012, and 65% of the population has been negatively impacted by climate change. Last year, we saw Category 5 Hurricane Patricia hit the Baja California/ Puerta Vallarta region; this hurricane was influenced by El Nino conditions and increasing global temperature averages. Mexico hopes to work on a clean energy transition, with hopes to do so through a re-working of the carbon tax program, to encompass natural gas. It also needs to reduce reliance on hydroelectric, nuclear, and “efficient coal” as clean energy sources, and focus on truly zero carbon energy sources.

Costa Rica: Costa Rica is a frontrunner within Central America on many of the UN’s Sustainable Development goals. They are one of 2 countries in the region that has legislation on the national level on climate change. Their goal is to increase public awareness on climate change, through education initiatives and improved information accessibility by non-state actors. They also aspire to increase renewable energy use to 90% as a means of economic development.(3)

Climate education is important to include in school curriculums.
Climate education is important to include in school curriculums.

El Salvador: El Salvador also wishes to increase public awareness and transparency and participation within their citizens for climate policy. They are working on changing their educational laws to include information on mitigation and adaptation to climate change, as a large part of their NDC. This is expected to be implemented through NGO and community participation.(3)


Colombia: Through the “Reforma Tributaria” legislature that was passed this past year, Colombia created a carbon tax system. 78% of 2015 emissions were related to land use change and aquaculture farms, meaning those are the two biggest sectors to tackle within climate change issues. Their goal is to increase investment of taxpayer money in education, healthcare and disaster awareness. (5)


Ecuador: Ecuador formed part of a side event on corporate conflicts of interest in the Paris Agreement discussions, they were especially worried about the power of corporate lobbies in policy creation.

Walter Schuldt, Ecuador's UN delegate, flashes the #ClimateSign
Walter Schuldt, Ecuador’s UN delegate, flashes the #ClimateSign

“If there are 100 entities in the world, only 30% are governmental, and 60% are business/industry”. Corporate-funded research that works to disprove climate science is dangerous for vulnerable communities who will be negatively impacted by a lack of action on climate change. Whole countries are being put in danger to protect private interests. Ecuador has confidence that we can remove the money from climate politics, just as we have done before on a global scale with the tobacco industry.  (1)

 

The tree canopy as viewed from the foothills of Peru
The tree canopy as viewed from the foothills of Peru

Peru: Peru has the 10th largest forest cover in the world, and 70% of the country is part of the Amazon basin, so deforestation is a big issues. They want to look broadly at climate change and policy to create long-term solutions. Some suggestions included re-organizing agricultural and business models to use Triple-bottom-line ethics.(4)

Argentina: In the past few years, Argentina has created a new cabinet position on the environment, bringing together many of the environmental programs from other ministries into one head.(2)


Chile: At first, it seemed like maybe Chile wasn’t even represented in the COP space, but I found an interesting side event to attend on Human Rights and Gender Equality in the Implementation of the Paris Agreement that featured President Michelle Bachelet as the keynote speaker. This past July I spent a week working with Colombian and Ecuadorian migrants in settlements in the outskirts of the Chilean city of Antofagasta, and I saw how human rights were already being affected by resource scarcity and privatization of water rights.

Flooding buried this building in about 3 feet of alluvium.
Flooding buried this building in about 3 feet of alluvium.

What’s more, Chile is exceptionally vulnerable to climate change with its 4000 km of coastline. Bachelet stated that, “the calamities of climate change are affecting rights”. She was president during the earthquake and tsunami that occurred on February 27th, 2010, devastating communities, as well as during 2015’s flooding and mudslides in the Atacama desert- the driest desert in the world. Last year, I stood waist deep in mud laced with mining tailings near Copiapo and shoveled out the buried remains of people’s livelihoods. Human rights in inexplicably linked with climate change, and Bachelet knows it.

 

President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, UN Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, and Belgian Minister of Energy & Environment Marie Christine Marghem
President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, UN Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, and Belgian Minister of Energy & Environment Marie Christine Marghem

Her administration’s mid-century plan includes 70% of energy sourced from renewables by 2050, and beyond that limiting the percent that is dependent on hydropower (currently their largest renewable source in use) for the methane emissions and ecosystem disruption. They are also working on decoupling greenhouse gas emissions from GDP growth to increase efficiency. Finally, Bachelet said that they were leading the region in the push for greater information accessibility, participation by civil society, and justice for all people. They strive to uphold the fundamental values of inclusion and equality- the columns that support a democratic society.(7)

 

Chile, with it's more than 4000km of coastline, needs to especially worried about climate change and sea level rise
Chile, with it’s more than 4000km of coastline, needs to especially worried about climate change and sea level rise

 

 

 

Overall, Latin American countries recognize that they have a lot to lose if we don’t take action on climate change. While each of the delegations and civil society representatives expressed much interest in working towards the goal of limiting global average temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celcius, special interests including businesses and industry have been doing their best to prevent regulations on their activities. Hopefully the will of the people can overcome the corporate interests and protect some of the greatest ecosystems in the world.

Sarah Voska

Delegate, COP 22

Care About Climate


Above content is derived from statements made at the following COP 22 Speakers and Side Events:
1Walter Schuldt. “Addressing Conflicts of Interests in the Paris Agreement Implementation”. COP 22, Ecuador Permanent Delegation to the UN. 15 Nov. 2016.

2Carlos Bruno Gentia. “Implementing NDCs in Developing Countries with Climate Finance.”COP 22. 14 Nov. 2016.

3Andrea Meza, Adrian Martinez. “Understanding Latin American Perspectives: NDCs.” COP22, La Ruta del Clima. 14 Nov. 2016

4Karina Pinasco Vela. “Implementing NDCs in Developing Countries with Climate Finance.”COP 22. Amazónicas para la Amazona. 14 Nov. 2016.

5Silvia Calderon. ““Implementing NDCs in Developing Countries with Climate Finance.”COP 22. Colombian Delegation to the UN. 14 Nov. 2016.

6Ana Vargas. Understanding Latin American Perspectives: NDCs.” COP22, CEMDA. 14 Nov. 2016

7President Michelle Bachelet. “Human Rights and Gender Equity in the Implementation of the Paris Agreement. COP22. The Republic of Chile. 15 Nov.

Press Release: Statement by US and Chinese Youth Directed at Our Presidents and President-Elect

 

For Immediate Release

CYCAN and CAC delegates present their joint statement directed to their leaders.

Marrakesh, Morocco-  Dear President Barack Obama, President Xi Jinping, and President-Elect Donald Trump,

Last year the world came together to create the Paris Agreement. Both the United States and China have ratified this agreement. However, we still have a lot to do, and US and Chinese governments are morally as well as legally responsible to do everything in their power to address climate change as soon as possible.  As the two largest global economies and greenhouse gas emitters, our countries have the opportunity to lead the world forward in climate action.

In this statement CYCAN and CAC seek to share a unified vision for what we expect the United States and China to support in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 22 (UNFCCC COP 22) and beyond, and in doing so, continue to build stronger working relationships between our two countries. We are calling for action from both parties to work on pre-2020 ambitions, adaptation, climate finance and loss & damage. This must be done while promoting and considering “obligations to human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.”

The US and China need to share technological resources and provide capacity-building to developing countries in order to provide the tools necessary for countries to adapt to climate change, including addressing impacts to agriculture, coastal cities, and vulnerable populations.  Last September, the United States reaffirmed its $3 billion pledge to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and China announced that it would make available 20 billion Renminbi for setting up the China South-South Climate Cooperation Fund to support other developing countries to combat climate change.

We call on the United States and China to provide a clear pathway to providing finance to developing countries to actualize their NDCs. China and the United States should support developing countries to assist with these climate impacts. Both countries should provide assistance when called upon by the global community.

As the representatives of youth in China and the United States, we demand our countries act proactively on climate change now. They must be ambitious, provide finance, support countries facing loss and damage, and help people adapt to climatic changes that are already happening.

CYCAN

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Press Conference Speakers:

Jing Liu, CYCAN

Kongrui Li, CYCAN

Nicholas Jones, Care About Climate

Sarah Voska, Care About Climate

To watch our Press Conference, you can view it on the UNFCCC Stream HERE.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (December, 2015). Paris Agreement.   

US-China Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change. (September, 2015). White House

 

Launching Into the Second Week of the UN Climate Negotiations

14993499_1321361097886993_2675736503130647486_nThis Conference of the Parties (COP 22) is supposed to be the COP of implementation. It is the first UN Climate Negotiations after the Paris Agreement was created, and has not gone exactly according to plan. Wednesday morning we all woke up to a surprise, a Trump presidency. No one knew exactly what happened. There was anger, tears, and confusion. However, among all these feelings, there was also a sense of community and support from the international and domestic community. There is more solidarity between countries and civil society than I have ever seem before. People here are going to fight for action on climate now, and they are determined to work together to do this! It has made the negotiations more challenging, but countries are moving forward with their commitments and intend to keep the US accountable.

People power will also keep the US accountable. Throughout Marrakesh there has been art demonstrations, flash mobs, and a climate march. US citizens have been coming together for strategy meetings, and overall there is a sense of urgency to ensure the Trump administration addresses climate change for our future.

Thursday Care About Climate hosted a press conference to give the opportunity for youth to speak on the US elections. The overall message from them was that there is hope.

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The next day we all received good news, Our Children’s Trust, the organization that is representing 21 youth suing the US government for not addressing climate change learned that their case would go to trial. This is an opportunity for the judicial branch to legally ensure that the US government takes steps to act on climate because it had not protected its citizens adequately from potential climate change impacts in the past. This was the talk of the COP, and offered a lot of hope in what seemed to be a lot of darkness.

The weekend was filled with activities that engaged people from around Morocco and around the world to demand climate action from the COP. We as a world are moving forward.

The Care About Climate team is excited for this second week and has started strong.

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Moving Beyond The Elections

Today a great wave of uncertainty and emotion has washed over the environmental movement reverberating through the global community.  Nowhere can this be more readily seen than at the UN climate talks where the world has amassed to discuss the implementation of the Paris Agreement.  Today, we must all give ourselves a chance to breath – take a walk, hug a friend, talk about it, and again take a deep breath and breath.  Because tomorrow, the work continues on.  Now more than ever we NEED to come together, build STRONGER connections, and CHANGE the conversation about climate change.  Care About Climate was formed to do exactly this, to give the world a universal climate sign and image to foster conversations across all walks of life, mindsets, and transcending all borders.  This is not the end.  This is a call to action, a call that we hope everyone in the climate movement will heed.  But for today, breath.

Nick Jones                                             Natalie Lucas

Chair, Care About Climate                 CEO, Care About Climate

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Press Release: How We Move Forward with Trump at the UN Climate Negotiations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Nick Jones         

Email: nicholasjohnsonjones@gmail.com

Phone: +212 06 50 33 68 15

How We Move Forward with Trump at the UN Climate Negotiations

Marrakesh, Morocco-  The air is buzzing with questions about what a Trump Presidency will mean for addressing climate change, and how it will affect the Paris Agreement, which is the international agreement that was created last year to significantly reduce greenhouse gas production. Although the tone is somber, delegates are moving the process forward with hope.

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According to Alden Meyer, the Director of Strategy and Policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Inaction has its consequences, and the US not addressing climate change will not be acceptable to other countries.” Meyer continues by stating that climate change is of geopolitical importance, and if Trump does not honor the Paris Agreement than he may not get help in other areas such as terrorism or trade.

It is clear that climate change will not be a top priority for the Trump administration, but nongovernmental organizations are confident that they can build coalitions with Republican partners to move forward on the Paris Agreement through renewable energy projects and protecting climate finance.

What does this mean for the climate movement?

“Now more than ever we need to mobilize, work locally, and show we are a united front. Americans care about climate change, and we celebrated the Paris Agreement. It is up to us to implement it through renewable energy projects, public transit initiatives, and rethinking agriculture,” says Natalie Lucas, CEO of Care About Climate. She continues, “people will solve this problem because we are innovative and passionate, but we must work together.”

Nick Jones, Chair of the Board for Care About Climate, states, “Today we need to take a deep breath and try to reconcile our emotional reactions because tomorrow the work continues spurring on climate action.”

This is the third day of the UN Climate negotiations in Marrakech of a two week conference. People from around the world are ready to act on climate now, and are in solidarity with climate organizers in the United States.  

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Connections in Chaos- COY 12

2A85C7F2-BC5F-4626-A94A-1EE185F4692FAs we zoomed through the tide of scooters, cars, bicycles, and buses in our taxi I was overtaken with a sense of tranquility, today was the day.  We were about to arrive at my first Conference of the Youth (COY) 12, which this year twas located in Marrakech, Morocco.  It was a strange way to enter this space, there had been a heated email listserv debate leading up to this about how the COYs were organized regarding inclusion and feelings that the youth movement had been co-opted by outside influences.  

Walking into registration it was visible the effect having these last minute venue changes and discussion had had on the organizational structure of COY.  We got our badges and lunch tickets and were off.  After finally finding our room we began our presentation for Care About Climate on climate communications.  A spirited discussion emerged about how we engage non-environmentalists, and how to better shape our messaging to bring in new parties instead of just talking to people who already believe there is a problem.  This was it, this was what I had come for.  To exchange ideas with a global community and grow as an individual hoping to make progress towards climate issues.

These feelings were dampened as I received my lunch.  A meat sandwich, prepackaged muffins, and Coke – all packaged in a massive brand new cardboard box!  Is this all a show?  Is climate change action something reserved for talks but not for implementation?  I was lost, unsure where I fit in.  Last minute room changes and a mismatched schedule led to nothing else productive the first day, it was time to start fresh tomorrow.  

IMG_0556The second day was much like the first, again I was beginning to feel detached and unsure of the reason we were all here.  That’s when Youness sat down next to me at lunch, looking equally disappointed at the massive box our meal has come in.  We started talking about how we felt about the organization of COY, but this quickly gave way to a much greater discussion of ideas.  Culture, identity, food, love, gender, religion we navigated these traditionally heated issues deftly as the conversation progressed forward.  I learned about how the market culture was going away in Morocco, being replaced with a more European model of supermarkets.  That he felt the identity of many Moroccans were at constant war internally as they attempted to reconcile Moroccan, Arab, and European values into their daily lives.  Youness believes the climate change conversation in Morocco is not so much about bringing sustainable practices to Morocco as it is encouraging people to return to the ways they have always held up until the past few years as the country moves more towards a European model of consumption.  This stuck me, as so often in the west we talk of BRINGING sustainability somewhere, when often times it is only the introduction of consumerism and other western creations that created the problems in the first place.

E4D5C3B3-6615-4BA6-B22B-B2828658D184Throughout the rest of the COY I had several more genuine human connections with youths from around the world. My understanding of them and myself grew deeper each time.  Ultimately it wasn’t the meetings, workshops, or panels at COY that pushed my development or thinking further, it was the people.  And that’s the message to take away from the whole conference.  We can’t rely on conferences or organizations to connect us and help us grow, it’s up to us to step out of our comfort zone and genuinely interface with another human being from a different walk of life- as often as possible.  That is what will push us forward and that is exactly what we hope to do with the Climate Sign, to foster connections between all people in the climate movement and make these types of connections more common in our everyday lives.  

Nick Jones

Chair, Care About Climate

Delegate, Care About Climate UNFCCC COP22